Otterhound Breeders, Breed Clubs and Rescue
Otter hunting is first mentioned in the 12thC during the reign of Henry II, but the Otterhound as a specific breed is not mentioned for another two hundred years when he is described as “a rough sort of dog between a hound and a terrier”, which is very suggestive of the present hound. He is a big, strong dog measuring up to 67cm and weighing as much as 120lb, though most weigh very much less. The Otterhound is tireless on land and very happy in water; his feet are webbed and coat oily to enable him to spend hours in the water. His ear folds suggest a link with French hounds – they are very similar to those of the Griffon family. It is likely that he derives from scenthounds brought in at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Otter hunting started because of the habit at the time of keeping stew ponds – small lakes with fish – as a kind of living larder. Otters were plundering these and hounds, often just single hounds, were trained to kill the otters.
Otter hunting is, of course, illegal now and the Otterhound has had to find a new purpose. Some are worked in minkhound packs and some in draghunts; with their stamina and excellent nose they make first class working hounds. As house dogs they require to be occupied. It is only a short time ago, in 1978, that the hunts were disbanded and Otterhounds moved into family homes and all those long years of breeding for stamina and endurance do not disappear. Just forty-three hounds from the Dumfriesshire pack and twenty-three from the Kendal pack were registered with the Kennel Club to form the nucleus of today’s breed.
As hunting hounds the Otterhound bayed to indicate a find, and that voice has not been lost; in the early days of Otterhounds being shown a very successful hound, William, owned by Janet Wigginton, could frequently be tracked down by his voice! This link will take you to a diary of one person’s experience with her Otterhound which is extremely illuminating. He does make a wonderful family dog for those who can cope with his ways; he is gentle with children and adaptable with other dogs and loves his family.
They are a hard-work dog; some heavily coated breeds stay remarkably tidy – if they were people they could wear a white t-shirt all day and it would remain spotless. The Otterhound would be the person who spills coffee and marmalade over it almost at once, and then doesn’t bother to pick the toast up from the floor. Their scenting instincts remain very strong so a secure garden is essential; exercise off the lead should be away from roads and livestock. If they do get a scent they will go and there will be little that can be done to stop them.
The coat is longish, dense and rough with an undercoat, and this requires a thorough weekly groom with a slicker and pin brush; a hound who is shown should not be trimmed. He can be in any of the recognised hound colours; liver and white is not allowed, or white base colour with separate black and tan patches.
- Kingstree Warwicks
- Ottaryx Devon
Rescue and Rehoming
Contact your breeder if you need any support with your hound; if you are interested in adopting an Otterhound contact the Breed Club.